[PDF Notes] Difference between the Nobility and Monarchy during the Slave Dynasty

It seems desirable to describe in detail the struggle between the nobles on the one hand and monarchy on the other during the Slave dynasty. Muhammad Ghori did not leave any son who could succeed him after his death. The result was that there was a contest for power among the various commanders who had helped him in conquering different parts of the country.

Aibak was foremost among them. He was undoubtedly the most capable among them all and Muhammad Ghori mainly depended upon him to carry on the administration of Indian territories. Taj-ud-Din Yaldoz was a serious rival of Aibak. The other rivals were Nasir-ud-Din Kabacha and Baha-ud-Din Tughril.

All of them at one time or the other competed for supreme power with Aibak but failed. However, the tradition of competing for the throne or at least to capture power in order to control the occupant of the throne was set up from the very foundation of the Delhi Sultanate. This became more and more prominent under the successors of Iltutmish.

After the death of Aibak, the nobles at Lahore proclaimed Aram Shah as their chief. However, the nobles of Delhi took up the cause of Iltutmish. A battle was fought in the vicinity of Delhi in which Aram was killed and Iltutmish came on the throne.

Under Iltutmish, Yaldoz, Kabacha and Ali Mardan Khan revolted and gave a lot of trouble, but Iltutmish proved himself more than a match for them all. Iltutmish organised the leading nobles of the kingdom into a college or a society with the purpose of inspiring them with a feeling of loyalty to the throne. The result was that when Iltutmish was dying he appealed to them to accept his daughter Raziya as his successor and they did not dare to express their unwillingness althought they knew that there was no precedent for it.

However, after the death of Iltutmish, rival factions arose. There were the supporters of Raziya and Rukn-ud-Din. The leader of the party in favour of Rukn-ud-Din was Mohammad Junaidi, the Prime Minister himself. He showed no hesitation in discarding the last wishes of Iltutmish.

The result was that Rukn-ud-Din was put on the throne. Unfortunately, he proved himself to be utterly useless and the Governors of provinces and even Wazir Junaidi himself turned against him. They assembled together and marched on Delhi with their combined armies under the command of Riyaz-ud-Din. Governor of Oudh, the younger brother of Rukn-ud-Din. The army of Rukn-ud-Din mutinied and murdered its officers. Rukn-ud-Din was seized and executed in 1236 A.D.

Raziya, who had won over the backing of the people of Delhi, was put on the throne. However, she was not acceptable to the heads of the provinces whose consent had not been obtained in putting her on the throne. The Governors felt that their right of electing the Sultan was ignored.

There were many ambitious nobles who opposed Raziya. The result was that Prime Minister Junaidi and several other leading nobles besieged Delhi with their armies. Malik Tayasi. Governor of Oudh was the only noble who took up the cause of Raziya but he was defeated and killed.

Raziya took up courage to fight against her opponents. She was able to create dissensions among her enemies by winning over two leading Maliks or nobles to her own side. She gave them the assurance that the Wazir and his other friends would be imprisoned.

After that, she gave out the secret to the intended victims. The result was that they ran away although they were pursued by the royal army. Fakhr-ud-Din, the brother of the Wazir and some other members of his party were killed. The Wazir himself took shelter in the northern hills where he died soon after.

The success of Raziya created among the nobles a sense of humiliation and they decided to have revenge. They got an opportunity to revolt when Raziya appointed Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, an Abyssinian and a non-Turk Amir, as the Superintendent of the Stables.

The nobles suspected that this was an attempt on the part of Raziya to raise a party of her own to stand against the growing power of the Turkish nobles. Morever, they could not tolerate any non-Turk to hold a high position in the Government. Consequently, they revolted but their revolt was suppressed.

Raziya decided to appear in public in made attire. This was taken as an excuse by the nobles to revolt against her. They instigated Altunia, the Governor of Bathinda, to take the lead. Yaqut was murdered and Raziya was made a prisoner. The rebels put Bahram on the throne in 1240.

While putting Bahram on the throne, the nobles put many restrictions on his power. It was agreed that Wazir Malik Ikhtiar-ud-Din Aetigin would be made the Naib-i-Mamalik, i.e., Deputy King. It was a new post which was higher than that of the Wazir.

Although Bahram accepted all the conditions imposed on him at the time of his succession, he got sick of them very soon. He also found himself unable to put with the arrogance of the Naib and the Wazir. He secretly instigated two members of the Turkish party to stab them. The result was that Aetigin was killed, but the Wazir escaped.

The king refused to fill the post of Naib-i-Mamalik, Badr-ud-Din Sanqar, Amir Hajib or Master of Ceremonies, behaved in a most improper manner by assuming almost all royal authority. He went to the extent of conspiring with the Wazir to depose the king. Unfortunately, the Wazir betrayed Sanqar and revealed the plot to Bahram. The latter promptly rushed to the meeting place of the conspirators and caught them red-handed. After some time, Sanqar raised another party against the king but was executed.

This created among the Turkish noble’s feelings of resentment and fear. The result was that the nobles joined hands and they were helped by the Wazir who was able to win over the support of the Ulema. There was a long siege of Delhi and ultimately the nobles were able to capture it. Bahram was also murdered in 1242 A.D. The nobles put Ala-ud-Din Masud on the throne.

They imposed on him the same conditions as they had done in the case of Bahram. It is stated that Malik Kishlu Khan became so impatient to capture power that he seated himself on the throne and declared himself as a king. However, he was dis-owned by his own party-men and hence nothing came out of it. Masud tried to choose his Ministers and advisers from those persons who were loyal to him.

At this time, Balban came to the front. He was one of the forty slaves brought up by Iltutmish. By cleverness, he was able to dispose of the Wazir. After that, he became the undisputed leader of the Turkish party. Minhaj, the historian, was a very senior and enthusiastic member of his party. To begin with, Balban tried to win over Masud to his side.

At the same time, he tried to build up a clique to overthrow Masud on the ground that the latter had not allowed him to be treated as a non-entity by Baban and his party. Balban was able to persuade Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud, the younger son of Iltutmish, to be used as a tool to destroy Masud and place him on the throne. It is true that Masud was very popular with the people but the conspiracy against him was so secret that he was completely ignorant about the same till he was captured and thrown into prison. Nasir-ud-Din was put on the throne.

Balban emerged as a leader of the Turkish party and by he was able to dispose of all his rivals. He got himself appointed as Amir Hajib in place of Qaraqash. The result was that the party led by the old Wazir Nizam-ul-Mulk was broken up and Balban became the undisputed leader of the party. All this happened in 1246. After that, Balban gradually rose to the highest position in the State and the Sultan was reduced to the position of a mere symbol or ‘Namunah’ as described by Barani.

After some time, dissensions arose among the nobles themselves. There were many nobles who were not prepared to tolerate the dominant position occupied by Balban. The Sultan also was feeling that the control of Balban over him was too much Imad-ud-Din Raihan, who was the leader of the Hindustani party (which included the Indian nobles), assured the Sultan his full support against Balban.

The Sultan was persuaded to dismiss Balban in order to free himself from the clutches of his domineering Wazir. Balban was banished to a distant place so that he may not be a danger to the Sultan. Raihan was appointed the Wazir and he dismissed the party-men of Balban from all high offices and their places were taken over by Hindustani Muslim dignitaries.

Balban also hit back. He tried to win over the sympathies of the Turkish nobles by pointing out to them that on account of their mutual dissensions they had to put up with indignities and humiliations. He appealed to them to sink their differences and capture power by their combined efforts. There were many nobles who were suspicious of Balban and refused to join him.

However, there were some nobles who were won over by Balban and it was with their support that he marched upon Delhi. He was not sure of his success against the forces organised by Raihan to defend the Sultan. Consequently, he resorted to the device of sending a deputation to the king. The members of the deputation told the king that Balban and the other nobles would be happy to support him loyally if he only dismissed Raihan and his party-men.

The Sultan was a very selfish man. He completely forgot that if once Balban came to power, he would make him a tool in his hands. He also did not show any feelings of gratitude towards Raihan who had rescued him from the clutches of Balban. The Sultan unsuspectingly walked into the trap.

Raihan was dismissed and Balban was restored to his previous position. After regaining power, Balban had his full revenge. He managed to destroy Raihan and his party-men. The mother of the Sultan was also disposed of Many other measures were adopted by Balban to destroy the authority and the strength of the nobles.

It is clear from above that the nobles during this period were very strong. No ruler could afford to ignore them. The Turks had no fixed and universally accepted law of succession and this gave enough scope to ambitious nobles to enter into intrigues to satisfy their selfish ambitions for the possession of de facto power behind the throne. In certain cases, the nobles themselves became kings. The struggle for supremacy between the nobles on the one side and the monarchy on the other was inevitable.

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